Paul Fireman has proposed to develop a new casino south of Liberty State Park should voters in New Jersey decide in November to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City. Fireman who had earlier been the head of Reebok International launched a new ad campaign called ‘Our Turn NJ’ targeting voters in Jersey City and New Jersey highlighting the benefits of developing casinos in North Jersey.

The 72 year old Fireman who is estimated to have a net worth of around $1.3 billion believes the opposition to developing a casino in Jersey City is unfounded. Fireman prefers not to use the word casino when referring to his proposal as the gaming facility will only be a part of the $3 billion Liberty Rising project which is a two tower resort that includes a casino, a hotel, high-end restaurants, and a spa. The casino is expected to have around 6,000 slot machines and 500 tables. Fireman is confident that if the November referendum is approved, he will turn his Liberty Rising property into an icon that is a beacon of energy in Jersey City.

Liberty Rising has faced opposition from anti-casino expansion group Trenton’s Bad Bet as they believe a casino in Jersey City will increase traffic congestion. Fireman dismissed these concerns stating that patrons to Liberty Rising would make use of the ferries or Jersey Turnpike and hence the impact on traffic would be minimal. In response to concerns raised by Mayor Steve Fulop and others over increased prostitution and crime, Fireman said those issues would not be a problem since the facility will be located within a gated property next to the golf course clubhouse.

Fireman stated that voters should focus on what the Liberty Rising project would do for the local community. The project is expected to create around 9,000 part time construction jobs and 6,000 full time jobs once the resort is fully operational. The resort is expected to generate around $65 million in taxes during its first year of operation and around $3.9 billion during the next 30 years. Fireman went on to say that not everyone lives in Newport and there are a number of bad areas that could be developed. The taxes generated by the facility could be utilized by projects that target these run down localities and look to improve local communities.

Democrat and Mayor Steve Fulop is expected to run for Governor next year. He had earlier supported the gaming expansion plan in New Jersey but changed his mind after visiting Atlantic City earlier this year. Fulop stated that if the November referendum is approved by New Jersey voters but rejected by Jersey City voters, he would oppose zoning approvals and city permits to Fireman. Fulop stated that he did not expect Jersey City voters to vote in favor of the casino but if his assumption was wrong, then he would support the people of Jersey City and work towards what they want as a community.

 

This article has been updated to reflect that Trenton’s Bad Bet has raised concerns over traffic congestion and Mayor Fulop has warned of increased crime and prostitution. 

2 Responses

  1. Steven Norton

    Paul Fireman has proposed a stupendous resort project, that includes a casino. And Assemblyman Ralph Caputo has proposed new Legislation that could clear the air on how much of the new tax revenue would go to Atlantic City, Seniors, the disabled and to the NJ Horse Industry.
    This is great news for North Jersey gaming, but even with new Legislation, if it isn’t specific enough; the referendum will fail. Assemblyman Caputo is on point, that Atlantic City, Seniors and the disabled, need to know what they can reasonably expect, from North Jersey gaming.
    Why not establish the Pennsylvania tax rates for developers; as this would level the playing field with North Jersey’s principal competition; while producing probably in excess of $400 million annually in new taxes. Then determine what percent is going to Seniors and the disabled (that have lost $1.8 billion,since PA approved slots in greater Philadelphia). And tell Atlantic City what their share is going to be for giving up a monopoly; that was effectively lost in 2006.
    And the PA tax (55% on slot and 16% on table win), could apply to the more expensive Jersey City casino, by giving development credits; against the win tax,; for amounts spent above the $1 billion minimum investment in the referendum.
    The other critical component for a successful referendum, is to severely limit the possible locations; preferably just the two that have developed plans, the Meadowlands and Jersey City. This would prevent NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) from prompting a no vote from residents in communities, that would still be in play. That was the primary reason the referendum failed in 1974 (60% to 40%); where every county could have a casino.
    The beauty of this plan, is the Meadowlands could be operational, within a year; probably 4 to 5 years before NY could act in Manhattan. And paying substantial taxes as early as 2017.
    I recently prepared a study of county populations in Eastern PA, New Jersey, NY City and the NY Counties of Orange, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk. The Meadowlands has over 6 million persons, that are closer to the Track, than and other gaming establishment. That is the same sized convenience market, that permits Aqueduct to win $800 million at a race track with only slot machines.
    But with table games, a large showroom, multiple restaurants and lounges, and better access to Manhattan (by car,bus,limo and rail); a Meadowlands casino could easily surpass the Aqueduct revenues and possibly surpass the $1 billion mark.
    And being only 15 minutes from Manhattan, the North Jersey casinos would benefit from the visitors, staying at Manhattan’s 98,726 hotel rooms. Both the Meadowlands and Liberty Rising would benefit enormously on slower mid-week nights, with probably 5% to 10% of the estimated 20 million annual business men,and convention/trade show attendees; looking for something different to do during the evening hours. And if you add in the weekend tourist, the total Manhattan Hotel visitor numbers come closer to 35 million annually. (Using 80% Occupancy at 1.2 guests per room mid-week; and 60% week end occupancy at 1.9 guests per room).
    Those concerned citizens of South Jersey, have to realize that the Atlantic City’s business model has to move toward that of the Strip in Las Vegas; where casino revenue is less than 35% of total revenue, while AC’s is still 70%. The big difference is the larger Strip resorts are making 73% of their operating earnings from the once forgotten departments; rooms, food, beverage, convention, entertainment an retail. The Strip learned about the value of the convention/trade show business; that fills rooms mid-week. All you have to do is look at booking web site, and compare the Saturday night room rate for AC casinos, with that of Tuesday night. Frequently, in the Fall, Winter and Spring; the mid-week room is 80% to 90% cheaper. Add to that, that AC casino resorts comp. more than 50% of their room, food and beverage revenues; plus give away $ millions in free play, and you see a business plan that needs redirection.

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